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Where to Sit at the Ballet?Macaulay article


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#1 pherank

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Posted 23 November 2013 - 10:55 PM

Up in the Aerie, a Ballet Lover’s Perch
At the Ballet, Nosebleed Seats Have Perks
-- Alastair Macaulay

http://www.nytimes.c...have-perks.html

 

I thought this was an enjoyable read, and I tend to agree with Mr. M's 'viewpoint' here.



#2 Paul Parish

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 09:44 PM

I agree [with you and with him]-- it's one of his best pieces, and it's SO true, how much of a dancer's essence one can see from WAY far away. When I saw Plisetskay live, the only tie, I was sitting in hte back of the  balcony, and still she slayed me.



#3 sandik

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 11:22 AM

I try to see big stuff from above as well as from the orchestra, especially Petipa and Balanchine.  And Cunningham has a really interesting look from above.



#4 DanielBenton

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 12:55 PM

I have sat in the fourth ring first row (seat AA1) at what used to be called the New York State
Theatre and thought it was a great view, except that some detail was lost to my aging eyesight.
I would reserve that seat on a subscription but they don't put the Fourth Ring on sale unless
and until they need to.

#5 pherank

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 02:30 PM

My seat for the upcoming SFB performance of KIngdom of the Shades from Bayadere will be left of center, up in the front of the Grand Tier gallery. I'd hate to be down in orchestra front for The Shades.  ;)

If I can afford to, I like to go to two different nights of a ballet with two different casts, and two completely different viewing points.

 

DanielBenton: I think the name of the theatre should be, "what used to be called the New York State Theatre".



#6 carbro

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 07:11 PM

DanielBenton: I think the name of the theatre should be, "what used to be called the New York State Theatre".

Better yet, if I may, the George Balanchine Theater.

 

I miss the depth of teh stage when I'm not in an upper level -- like 2nd Ring or higher at the aforementioned Balanchine or Grand Tier or higher at The Met, although I think lower Family Circle, where I sometimes sit (when I don't buy standing room), is really "too far."

 

But sometimes, the view from the orchestra can make a performance a revelation.  A friend with an extra press ticket once invited me to join him for a performance that included Liebeslieder Walzer.  With a (dancing) cast of only four dancers, the floor patterns are not so important.  There were moments when I felt swept up in dancing.  It was so exhilarating. 



#7 DanielBenton

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 04:36 AM

Carbro, very interesting comment about viewing Liebeslieder from the orchestra.
I heartily agree it should be the GB theatre!

#8 Balanchinomane

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 11:56 AM

I like to refer to the State Theatre as the Voldemort, after "He Who Must Not Be Named."

I miss the 4th Ring so much - it's terrible not to be able to buy advance tickets there.

It's too bad they won't compromise and sell row C and upwards for under $50. They

are losing last minute business especially after the casting is posted.



#9 Stage Right

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Posted 27 November 2013 - 03:23 PM

I used to stand in the back of the 4th ring when I was studying dance in NYC, and loved it! Although I was also glad when after the intermission I might find a seat further down. And when my mother would come to visit, we'd get seats in the Gand Tier, and that was a fabulous view!



#10 Jack Reed

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Posted 28 November 2013 - 11:55 AM

Macaulay's article is an exceptional piece by someone who knows the value of our seeing what he sees as though through his eyes.  That can help us to see things he's not even writing about, sometimes, and it makes him our good friend.

 

I only gradually learned to sit on the center-line for Balanchine - Macaulay's remark about his "frontality" came home here - so that an event in the opening ensemble of Emeralds escaped me, sitting in the orchestra, for a time:  On a swell in the music, the ballerina's partner lifts her; but the corps has formed an arcade downstage of them by lifting their joined hands, and until I happened to sit on the center-line, I never saw it, but when I did, I saw it framed by the center opening of that arcade!  What a beautiful surprise that was.  Of course, I would have seen it the first time from upstairs - but in a more analytic way, I'm afraid.  

 

After a few things like that, I also chose my location carefully, depending on the repertory.  And pretty soon I noticed the overall effect from a side seat was pretty weak - They're dancing for those people over there (the people in the center), not for me, it seemed, and I missed not "getting it right between the eyes."  

 

Too far away, and it's weaker too; but close?  One evening the best I could get on the center-line was the fourth row - this was the New York State Theater long before the orchestra pit was enlarged - and never having sat so close, I decided to try it:  I could hear the gasps, the thuds, see the sweat coming through the seams - if I'd closed my eyes I could've imagined I was in a gymnasium where there happened to be an orchestra playing - but the illusion, the magic of dance happened anyway, even with all the elements of everyday reality I was getting, to interfere. 

 

"Ballet is pretty girls and patterns - pretty girls for the people in the expensive seats, patterns for the people upstairs."  (Or something like that.)

 

And Macaulay was right about the seriousness of the Fourth-Ring crowd, too - back in the day, I knew a young man who could only afford that, in order to go nearly every night; and in spite of some vision impairment, he'd learned everyone's name - everyone's - right down to the last corps girl.  "No one knows who we are," one said to me once, but when one of them shopped in the Lincoln Center neighborhood where my friend worked, he'd hand her her merchandise or her change with a smile and, "There you are, Stephanie" or whoever it was.  (He could tell her where she'd been on stage the night before.)  "No one knows," but someone up there does.  "The gods," as Macaulay says, yes.  In the top of the house.  Where does that term come from?   



#11 DanielBenton

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Posted 28 November 2013 - 01:17 PM

Jack Reed, your apologia is noted. According to Wikipedia "the gods" may refer to the fact that the
seats were very close to the theatre ceiling which was often painted with mythological characters. It jogged my memory of watching the great film Les Enfants du Paradis, in which Baptiste's true friends,
the poor people, sat in "the gods".

#12 Amy Reusch

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Posted 29 November 2013 - 09:17 PM

Maybe we could just start calling it Balanchine's Theater... though I applaud the state's role in it's existence, so it will always be "The State Theater" to me... Just like that road will always be "The West Side Highway" no matter who they name it after next.

Watch the ensemble choreography from the balcony, the principals' performance from the orchestra, preferable from where the lighting designer sat when he lit the ballet... Atleast 2/3rds back and center,,,


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